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Salted amputations

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:27pm
For some reason I was handed a little bottle of salt by a drunken passer-by as I sat in the car on stand-by during the first of my run of night shifts. I think I sat holding it for a few seconds before I even reacted to the fact that he had given me it. An unexpected gift and proof that drunks will steal and subsequently give away anything.

I went to a call soon after that for a young girl who had trapped her finger in a door (she was drunk too) and had torn the tip of it off as a result. The bone could be seen gleaming underneath the ragged flesh but she remained cheery nonetheless! She was a wriggling, non-compliant talkative sort and I found myself cruelly thinking of the effect my little bottle of salt would have on a wound this raw. A terrible thing to think, I know, but I was in a dark mood and that only lifted towards the end off the night. I dressed the finger and stuck her arm in a sling instead.

One of the bar staff had the presence of mind to preserve the missing chunk of finger in a glass of ice, which I thought was good of him. I asked him to take it out, wrap it in sterile gauze and then replace it. For reference, if you amputate a bit of you, place the missing part in a sterile wrap or plastic bag, then put it in the ice. You should never expose living tissue directly to ice. One day you'll thank me :-)

As the night wore on the drunks began to accumulate on the streets. The noise level increased and became strangely animalistic; grunts, groans and howls - especially at ambulance sirens. It wasn't a family atmosphere and I thought that things had got back to normal in London Town on a weekend. No more happy, smiling tourists and small people milling about in a low or non-alcohol environment. No more gangs of middle-aged and elderly men and women out on their trips of patronage to their favourite theatre/cinema/restaurant. The West End had been given back to the heathen masses, laying waste to the streets and each other. Roll on Spring.

FRED, the new call allocation system is still giving me a headache. I now look at the area it wants me to go to, start rolling slowly and then, predictably, stop when I receive my cancellation. What a waste of time. I get, on average, six of these far flung calls a shift now but I have worked out how to stop it happening when I am on stand-by; I press 'green away from vehicle'. That way I only get called when Control actually want me to do a job.

Among my other calls of the night was a 'bus v ped' during a busy time of the early hours. I got on scene and found no-one. I saw lots of buses but they were all moving around. After ten minutes of searching Control informed me that he had got on the bus that hit him and gone home. How thoughtful of him.

I met a well-mannered ex-marine who was assaulted on a bus and walked over to the car with a bleeding head wound. Whatever he had been hit with was small and sharp. It had pierced his scalp and gone throught his Temporal artery, causing a bit of a blood storm for a few seconds before coming under control. "Don't worry", he said, "I've been putting pressure on it while I waited". How thoughtful of him too.

My last job of the night dragged me into overtime, whether I liked it or not. An elderly gentleman with severe asthma. A straightfoward job. I nebulised him with Salbutamol and Atrovent and his wheeze, which was very bad when I got on scene, became less obvious and his breathing less difficult. He was one of those stubborn types who don't call ambulances unless they are at death's door, or a relative does it for them. In this case, a relative made the call. He had been suffering like that for two days.

Well, time to get into a better mood for the shift ahead.

Be safe.
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